The Elite Eight…it was excellent…it was electric…it was indeed exciting.
So the field is set for next weekend’s showdown in Indianapolis, the finals of the NCAA tourney.
It’s many of the names you expected. Coach K and Tom Izzo, John Calipuri and the newcomer to the mix, Bo Ryan. It’s the traditional powers like Duke and Kentucky, and Michigan State and the other guy on the block, the football school Wisconsin.
Gonzaga and Mark Few tried so hard, hung so tough. Arizona seemed so close, but so far away again under coach Sean Miller. Louisville had it and lost it.
Those gritty Bulldogs form Spokane spent every ounce of energy but just missed. There seems to be no explanation for the U-of-A, where Miller is now (0-5) in Tucson trying to get his Wildcats to the Final 4.
But it was some weekend of warriors play.
Michigan State just willed it way past Louisville, out-toughing them, hitting big baskets, staving off comebacks, and sinking free throws. A (10-0) Spartan run got them the lead. They survived the loss of their top two big men to fouls, and found a way to lean all over Rick Pitino’s club, which had just 1-basket in the its final 10-possessions in regulation and overtime.
On Wisconsin they are still singing in the bars back in Madison. The Badgers buried 10-3 point shots in a huge comeback, in their putdown of Arizona. The UW bigs, led by 7-footer Frank Kaminsky and his 3-point shooting buddies, did in the more athletically gifted Wildcats.
Kentucky was pushed to the edge by Notre Dame, with the Irish hitting outside shot after outside shot, taking UK to the limit before losing at the end.
Duke is Duke, regardless what day of the week, what week of the year, what year on the calendar it is. That front line is so good, they’ll be in the NBA a year from now. The Zags are the little train that could, and almost did. There is nothing to be ashamed of at Gonzaga, 35-wins is an amazing accomplishment.
The blue bloods for the most part won this run of March Madness. There were not too many upsets along the way. It was fun to watch Wichita State beat who they beat. You rooted for the near upset by UC Irvine in a near win. You felt bad injuries robbed Virginia down the stretch, taking away an exceptional season.
But the best will play the best next weekend. No place for the timid when Kentucky’s young guns face old school Wisconsin. Duke-Michigan State will be the matchup of the old dog coaches, Izzo-vs-Coach K.
A pretty good tournament, and 3-big games left on the schedule, starting next Friday.